NWSL: Marissa Diggs retires from Houston Dash

Just one year after turning pro and being drafted in the 2nd round of the NWSL College Draft by the Houston Dash, Marissa Diggs has announced her retirement from professional soccer.

The Rowlett, TX native made 13 appearances as a rookie, including 11 starts. Her most memorable moment as a rookie came on July 17th when she scored the game tying goal in the 74th minute in a match that ended in a 1-1 draw against the Washington Spirit.

After the completion of the 2014 NWSL season, Diggs returned to the University of Central Florida to complete her degree. Nearing the completion of her studies, Diggs faced the decision that many other young women soccer players have to make: pursue a career or continue to play soccer.

The unfortunate reality of women’s professional soccer is that it is difficult to make a living out of it. Only the best players earn enough to support themselves, most have to work jobs in the off-season in order to make ends meet.

NWSL is filled with women who are extremely bright and who have degrees from some of the best schools in the United States. Therefore, while disappointing it is not surprising to see young players either opt for a professional career rather than soccer straight out of school or within a couple of years of turning professional.

Just a week ago, Boston Breakers defender Courtney Jones retired. Last year, 22-year old Breakers forward Jazmine Reeves retired after a promising rookie season to take a job with Amazon.

Diggs’ retirement comes at a time when the Dash have a wealth of attacking options but are thin at the back, especially with 3-4 defenders set to miss time with the World Cup this summer. The only experienced center backs on the roster apart from Diggs are Niki Cross, Lauren Sesselmann.

The Dash used their 4th round pick in the NWSL to select Carleigh Williams, Diggs’ center back partner at the University of Central Florida. The familiarity of the players with one another would have potentially made both better and certainly would have helped with Williams settling in to the club, but it was not to be.

Dash head coach Randy Waldrum has been able to secure several top undrafted center backs for preseason training, including Taylor Leach and Taylor Nelson. Along with Carleigh Williams, these players now have an extra incentive in preseason training; there may be at least two spots now available on the roster at center back.

The Dash could opt to make another trade for an experienced center back and will watch to see which players are available after the roster cut down to 20 players prior to the start of the regular season. Until then, as was the case last season, young and inexperienced players may make up a significant portion of the Dash back line this season.